Legal QuickCap: What’s Next in Diversity: Working Collaboratively to Measure, Report, and Improve Law Firm Diversity, Title, HeadingThe webinar, What’s Next in Legal Diversity, moderated by Doug Ventola, Managing Director, Consilio, features Ed Blakemore, Assistant General Counsel, Rockwell Automation; Vanessa Lozzi, Senior Technology and Litigation Support Administrator, Flagstar Bank; and Maureen O’Neill, Senior Vice President of Strategic Engagement, Consilio. As the panelists discuss their strategies and future D&I plans, they gather for the same goal. Spearheaded by the American Bar Association’s Resolution 113, they aim to direct the greater percentages of legal services to diverse attorneys. As a result, Rockwell and Flagstar Bank, in addition to over 100 other companies, have taken the pledge to work toward creating and expanding D&I opportunities. It is noteworthy that successfully incorporating D&I into an organization’s mission can be a complicated endeavor. Luckily, this webinar’s panelists offer tips and tricks on how to effectively collect, track, and measure data that will not only benefit staff and clients but also improve the bottom line.

The benefits of diversity at law firms

According to Ventola’s findings, some of the benefits of a more diverse workforce include “having a happier workplace, a larger referral network, different ideas and perspectives, and it sends a message to your employees that diversity is a core value of the company.” Not only does Blakemore agree but he also reveals one of the reasons why he thinks Rockwell can reap the benefits. “To be consistent,” he says, “we think it is important for the people who represent us to mirror the people who buy our products.” By effectively representing their customer’s interests and backgrounds their team is ready to take on any matter. Not to mention, outside counsel partnerships are stronger and there is greater trust instilled in current and future clientele.

What the commonly tracked diversity attributes are and how to track them

The commonly tracked diversity attributes include gender, race, disability, LGBTQ, and veteran status. While ideally all elements are monitored, according to Blakemore and Lozzi’s data collections, gender and race tend to be the primary focus. This is because the other attributes involve employee self-disclosure as well as firm tracking, often resulting in non-representative samples so they are not monitored as closely. Another diversity component to consider tracking is one’s job position. “It is the elephant in the room and change will not happen overnight,” admits Lozzi as she reflects on the data revealing an overwhelming number of men holding partner positions. Therefore, her organization places a bigger emphasis on meeting diversity objectives across general matters rather than a particular position. Also, not all law firms are male-dominant and those that are, are not expected to be completely remodeled by tomorrow. Rather, the expectation is to recognize its D&I stance and have a plan for advancement.

Regarding data collection, our panelists use a variation of e-billing and excel-template data collection and tracking systems. Additionally, both like to leverage Sky Analytics to better understand, track, and manage their outside legal spending while receiving robust diversity reporting capabilities. Blakemore speaks upon his experience with the platform by saying “when we send out a questionnaire obtaining timekeeper data, the report melds with the bills we are paying, delivering a lot more data than we would have had otherwise.” When reviewing the data in outside counsel evaluations, Blakemore and Lozzi agree it allows them to better understand how their professionals are meeting their diversity objectives.

Committing to Diversity and Inclusion – how to start, maintain, and operationalize

When committing to D&I, one of the first things to consider is where the company falls on the Law Department Operational Maturity Chart. While ‘basic’ means no diversity involvement, ‘intermediate’ and ‘advanced’ involve data tracking, analysis, and active staffing efforts to support the advancement of diverse attorneys. The key takeaway from this webinar’s section is, like Rockwell and Flagstar Bank, no one falls neatly into one category. The goal is for organizations to be aware of their current diversity focus and have a plan to improve.

Secondly, earning a certification such as Mansfield reflects an organization’s commitment towards D&I as it requires 30% of all women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled individuals to be considered for leadership roles, equity partner promotions, and client pitch opportunities. Additionally, acquiring a NAMWOLF Membership, the National Association and Women Owned Law Firms, can help align diversity and inclusion objectives with outside partnerships.

Lastly, it is important to operationalize diversity initiatives. Rockwell, for example, incorporates D&I into outside counsel guidelines through a diversity-focused evaluation form. Similarly, Flagstar Bank is planning on releasing a letter to their outside counsel that clarifies future expectations on working toward a more inclusive workforce.

The future is diverse

Today, clients expect a certain level of commitment towards D&I by replacing systematic disadvantages with new opportunities to thrive and grow. Ranging from identifying diversity attributes and how to track them to what platforms to use and how to operationalize initiatives, this webinar teaches us what to look for and how to get there. Aside from driving innovation, creativity, and trust between clients and partners, ultimately, those who continue to listen, learn, and implement, will be the future’s D&I trailblazers.